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Old 11-26-2013, 08:15 PM   #1
dukeofmuffins
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I know these vary a bit in topic but I didn't want to flood the forum with my newbishness.

1) Are there any must-read books for a potential new homebrewer? Aside from scouring forums and picking up a few issues of Brew magazine, I bought a copy of Homebrewing for Dummies. It definitely answered a lot of my questions, but I know there's a plethora of guides out there, and I can't help but think the community has something they regard as the essential book.

2) Is there a reason to start with bottling vs kegging? In my situation, kegs would be consumed rapidly and could be more easily utilized for large military functions, where there is always a bar/tap system on hand. I am aware that kegs can be a bit more of an investment, but I'm under the impression that quality bottles and bottling gear can cost a few pennies too. I'm also comfortable handling CO2/bulk gas and the associated piping/plumbing. Just wonder if anyone has a beginner kegging horror story that might dissuade me from just jumping to that route.

3) Lastly and most importantly, is anyone familiar with the Shiner Smokehaus beer? I made a promise to my boss that should I be successful in my initial brewing endeavors that I would look into cloning this beer. I know it wasn't the be-all-end-all of smoked beers, but he loved it for whatever reason and was pretty burnt when they stopped production a few years back. The info I can find describe it as a "Munich Helles-style lager made with Texas mesquite wood-smoked pale malts." Being as a I will probably work with extract kits for a while (until I'm comfortable) I was hoping there might be a kit that could be modified with the addition of the mesquite flavoring. I doubt Shiner did much more than add something akin to Liquid Smoke, though I'm sure I could do slightly better. The lagering process would give me an excuse to fashion some gear later on as well. If anyone has any thoughts on this particular effort I'd appreciate it, even if it's a longer term goal. I've got 6 months in the desert coming up, and I'll have plenty of time to dream about and plan my first attempts when I get back!

 
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Old 11-26-2013, 08:55 PM   #2
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1. How to Brew by John Palmer is a good book to start with. It covers brewing in simple enough terms that you can make good beer and it goes into enough depth to give you a decent understanding of the brewing process.

2. Many of us start with bottling because it is easy and cheap. If you have the knowledge and funds, go for the kegs. I happen to like bottles because I like a lot of different beers and can choose from any of the bottles in my refrigerator. It gets pretty expensive to have as many kegs and taps as I have varieties of beer.

 
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:07 PM   #3
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1) I would second how to brew by palmer but there really isnt a perfect one book to read but instead plenty of books to pick up. I would look into "Water", "Hops", and "yeast" as you advance more.

2) I still bottle and dont mind it at all. I think the biggest advantage that I see is that if something goes wrong in bottles, you have only lost one or a few beers. If you forget to sanitize in a keg or have a bad co2 tank, the whole batch is lost. I would recommend starting with bottles. I wouldnt purchase new ones, but instead just save them when you drink to save money.

3) IDK anything about that shiner beer but you may want to search Austin Homebrew Shop online. They make a lot of clones and just a lot of kits that you might be able to find something close enough
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Old 11-26-2013, 09:31 PM   #4
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1. Don't bother buying any books. All of the information you need is on the internet via youtube and especially this forum.

2. If you have the funds, go right into kegging, but learn up first. It will definitely cut back on your time specially if you are force carbing. but like RM-MN said, If you want to have a lot of different styles on tap it can be expensive. Hey, you could always do both.

3. as far as the shiner clone goes, try steeping 12 to 16 oz of smoked malt along with a pretty close style extract kit and see how it comes out.

 
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:31 PM   #5
IvanTheTerribrew
 
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Hey,

1) I personally read first Home Beer Making by William Moore. It's small and simple but helped me.
Designing Great Beers by Ray Daniels
Homebrewing for Dummies
Brewmaster's Bible by Stephen Snyder

Even if it's just for recipes, those are great books.

2) if you have the money go for kegging. But like others say, read up and watch videos on it. In my opinion for your first few try the "set it and forget it" method of carbonating. The force carbing can go badly. Also like others say, bottling is cheaper, more time consuming, repetitive, but you end up having the ability to have multiple beers to chose from. Plus if you want to give any to people who can't come to the kegs, you can with bottles.

Can't recall your third Q but I gtg, good luck!
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dukeofmuffins View Post
I know these vary a bit in topic but I didn't want to flood the forum with my newbishness.

1) Are there any must-read books for a potential new homebrewer? Aside from scouring forums and picking up a few issues of Brew magazine, I bought a copy of Homebrewing for Dummies. It definitely answered a lot of my questions, but I know there's a plethora of guides out there, and I can't help but think the community has something they regard as the essential book.
How to Brew by Palmer, Designing Great Recipes by Ray Daniels, Radical Brewing by Randy Mosher, The Joy of Homebrewing by Charlie Papazian as well as the others mentioned, especially "Yeast" by Chris White

2) Is there a reason to start with bottling vs kegging? In my situation, kegs would be consumed rapidly and could be more easily utilized for large military functions, where there is always a bar/tap system on hand. I am aware that kegs can be a bit more of an investment, but I'm under the impression that quality bottles and bottling gear can cost a few pennies too. I'm also comfortable handling CO2/bulk gas and the associated piping/plumbing. Just wonder if anyone has a beginner kegging horror story that might dissuade me from just jumping to that route.
Bottling is definitely cheaper but more time consuming and it takes longer for the beer to carbonate. Kegging is great! Horror stories: Over carbonating kegs and not inspecting your setup only to find your co2 tank drained overnight

3) Lastly and most importantly, is anyone familiar with the Shiner Smokehaus beer? I made a promise to my boss that should I be successful in my initial brewing endeavors that I would look into cloning this beer. I know it wasn't the be-all-end-all of smoked beers, but he loved it for whatever reason and was pretty burnt when they stopped production a few years back. The info I can find describe it as a "Munich Helles-style lager made with Texas mesquite wood-smoked pale malts." Being as a I will probably work with extract kits for a while (until I'm comfortable) I was hoping there might be a kit that could be modified with the addition of the mesquite flavoring. I doubt Shiner did much more than add something akin to Liquid Smoke, though I'm sure I could do slightly better. The lagering process would give me an excuse to fashion some gear later on as well. If anyone has any thoughts on this particular effort I'd appreciate it, even if it's a longer term goal. I've got 6 months in the desert coming up, and I'll have plenty of time to dream about and plan my first attempts when I get back!
Sorry, can't help with the shiner beer thing............cheers!
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Old 11-26-2013, 10:57 PM   #7
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1. +1 to those suggesting Palmer's book. It is by far the best of the general (non-specialized) brewing books I own, and is good for both the beginner who is just starting out, and as a reference down the road. It's available for free online, but I'd go ahead and buy it because reading off the screen is no fun and Palmer deserves a few bucks for his hard work (it's not expensive).

2. F*** bottling, go straight to kegs if you're not worried about the extra cost of equipment (if you decide you don't like brewing, you can always sell it). I started out with bottling and all that cleaning, sanitizing, label removing, filling/capping and then waiting for carbonation to occur... sucks. Kegging is so much easier: clean out the keg, fill 'er up and carbonate. No more waiting, much less labor.

 
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Old 11-27-2013, 05:45 AM   #8
Cyclman
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1. Big fan of How to Brew and Designing Classic Styles.
2. Kegging is an investment, my personal tendency is to invest in what will make my brewing better. I don't find bottling that difficult.
3. Look up rauchbier. Great style, not too popular. Plan to do one this summer. Hope it'll match my BBQ.
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Old 11-27-2013, 07:13 AM   #9
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1) if I could only own three breei.g books, it would be "How to Brew" by John Palmer, "Designing Great Beer" by Ray Daniels, and Brewing Classic Styles" by Palmer and Jamil Zanichef. If I could have three more, it would be "Water", "Hops" and "Yeast". You didn't ask, but for software, I prefer Beersmith, both computer and smartphone.
2) If you go through beer fast, kegs. If you go slower, want to age beers, or want to give beer away mote easily, bottles. But bottling is way cheaper.
3) I've never used liquid smoke in a smoked beer. It's easy to smoke your own malt, but go REAL easy. A little smoke goes a long way.
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Old 11-27-2013, 01:21 PM   #10
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As far as books go ...the god father of homebrew Charlie Papazian's "Complete Joy of Home Brewing" IMHO is the bible for beginning brewers....full of theory, practical methods, tables, and recipes. If you could only have one book this would be the one.

Kegging is SOOOOooooo much simpler, takes a lot of the tedium out of the racking process.

As far as your specific beer.....I'm not familiar with it, but it's not hard to brew a Rauch Bier (smoke beer), lot's of recipes out there.
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